Posted by: Thomas Richard | August 16, 2010

Holy Mass: Re-Creation or Recreation?

Jesus said, “Behold, I make all things new.”  At every celebration of Holy Mass, Catholics are invited to step into that central moment in time when all creation was made new.  In this moment, time is suspended and the doorway to eternity is opened: human persons stand in the Presence of God the Holy Trinity!  We, the baptized in Christ, are gathered into His heart – into the eternal Love in God, our vocation and destiny.

All this is brought to us in every celebration of Holy Mass!  The eternal is inserted into time; the infinite, into place; the divine, into humanity.  And all so inserted, so gathered, so welcomed, is made new!

Or, is Mass merely recreation?  Is Holy Mass the crucial and transforming and decisive moment of your life (in the Greek, the defining moment or kairos) – or is it merely a nice weekly pastime (another segment of the ever-flowing chronos of time)?  Pastimes can be pleasant, or boring; they remain optional, dispensable, disposable.  They can be chewed up and spit out like distasteful obligations.  They can be passed over, in preference for more attractive options that may present themselves that week.

Recreational use of religion is just that: use.  It is a means to an end, not the end in itself.  The Church believes and teaches that Holy Mass is the “source and summit of the Christian life”!  The Source is our deepest desire – not a mere means to something else!  The Summit is our vocation, our destiny, our intended goal – not merely some nice religious art to pause and gaze at, as we we walk through the gallery of other art-forms.

Recreational use of religion can be critiqued.  “How was Mass today?” Was the music played well?  Was it too loud, or too intrusive?  Was the homily engaging?  Did he keep to his allotted ten minutes?  Did he hold your interest?  Did the priest drag things out – or was he rushed, distracted?  No, recreational religion is already a failure even before the Processional begins!  Mere spectators have already missed the Spectacle!  Mere tourists already missed the Great Attraction!  Like the crowds they press around Him, but they do not touch Him.  One woman touched Him, and was healed.

At the Source and Summit of the Christian Life, the word “lukewarm” does not fit.  Words such as “pleasant”, “nice”, even “very nice” are hollow – insulting.  How does one critique the self-emptying of God become man?  How does one compare the Cross of Christ, and His Resurrection, and the intimacy of divine communion, with “last week” or with the way that other priest does it?  No, spectators and tourists have already missed it.  Though they would press upon Him, they fail to touch Him.  Neither cold nor hot they keep a lukewarm distance, a compromise with God who gave all that they might have life, and have it abundantly.

People of God, do not pass Him by; do not miss the miracle offered to you.  Do not be so distracted with the externals that the essentials are overlooked!  The beauty of a sanctuary radiates not from its design or its furnishings, but from the Life that flows in it.  The holiness of the priest rests not in his vestments and gestures at the altar, but from the consecrated union with Christ that he lives.  The potency of his preaching derives not from style, or delivery, or outline, or humor or drama or any human technique – but from his union with Christ and the Gospel.  Find Christ in the Mass, and you will enter the re-creation; all will become new for you.

Priests and Bishops, regain your zeal!  Find once more your first love!  Ignite those entrusted to you, to the sacred realities so abused and wasted among us!  Without fear, shine the light of truth for your people so tossed and turned by the whims of this dark world!  Be shepherds; feed and tend the sheep.  Preach the truth.  Those who hate Him will hate you; be not afraid.  Teach the truth.  Those who hear Him and follow Him, will follow you; love your people with the love of Christ.



  1. Dear Thomas,

    Truly, the Renewal of the Church begins interiorly. If we are not worshiping in Spirit and Truth at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are not working with God toward renewal, and continually making “all things new” in our time.

    The words of St. John Vianney help me in my own preparation for Mass, as this saintly pastor and Patron of all priests, encouraged his flock to approach Mass with the same sentiments with which Mary approached Calvary. Certainly Mary did not fully comprehend the infinite mystery of Jesus on the Cross but she kept her eyes and heart there with Him.

    We are poor human persons standing with our Mother at the foot of the Cross at each Consecration of the Mass, and like her we can, by Grace, offer ourselves in union with Jesus, to the Father, as she did. We can die in a spiritual way with Him and rise with Him to new life.

    Another saint whose writing has helped me is St. Thomas of Aquinas who wrote that every Holy Communion should be more fervent than the one before. As I prepare myself before Mass begins, I ask Jesus to enable me to make this Mass and Holy Communion the most fervent of my life.

    My trust is in His Power to “do great things” in all of us, His Church, as He did “great things” in Mary, who embodies all that we are called to be.

    Come, Holy Spirit, overshadow us, as you did Mary. Kindle in us the Fire of Your Love. Save us from lukewarmness, and grant true Renewal to the Church.

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